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College of Ottawa: Verushka Lieutenant-Duval says she is ‘pre-doomed’

Ms. Lieutenant-Duval testified before the Appeals Arbitrator on the third day of the hearing.

Keep in mind that a University of Ottawa arbitration panel must decide whether the decision to temporarily relieve her of her duties was justified.

This professor, who gave her testimony with emotion on Friday, had been suspended after saying the N-word in front of a feminist art class in October 2020. The case had sparked a pan-Canadian debate about academic freedom.

The Dean of Philosophy, Kevin Kee, met the professor on October 10, we were reminded on Friday.

I was guilty, I saw it, I felt it in the way she asked questions‘ said the professor.

In the days following the events at an English class on gender representation, Verushka Lieutenant-Duval had to deal with her suspension, students writing to her asking for updates on upcoming assessments, and planning for her reintegration into her classes, she explained.

Masked young adults walk around the University of Ottawa campus.

Werushka Lieutenant-Duval felt “condemned in advance” (archive).

Photo: Radio Canada / Alexander Behne

A whole administrative machine tried to convince me that I had made a serious mistake. I felt aloneshe testified before referee Michelle Flaherty.

In addition to her suspension, the professor has been banned by her department from communicating with her students, a policy she says she’s always respected. However, that didn’t stop them from sending him numerous emails asking about the fate of their course. She claimed that was her main concern at the time.

I begged [l’équipe du décanat] to write to my students [pour les aviser] that I couldn’t answer them, that there were no more appointments […]. I found it cruel, cruel, cruel not being able to answer them. »

A quote from Veruschka Lieutenant Duval

During this time, the University of Ottawa required him to complete an assessed course significant when returning to class.

The training focused on racism […], but only talked about situations where people threw insults or made comments. It had nothing to do with class, with controversial terms in class. I know what it is, racismremembers Mrs. Lieutenant-Duval.

When Mrs. Verushka-Duval returned to classes, the students were offered three options: continue their education with Mrs. Verushka-Duval, change teachers, or drop out of the course without penalty.

However, in order to remain in the professor’s course, the students had to express their choice to the department. By default, they will be placed in another teacher’s class.

According to Lieutenant-Duval, they were offered that choice in an email sent to the students at 10:45 p.m. on October 14. They had until October 16 to indicate their preference. In the end, only one student chose to remain in her class.

It has become a political decision. I found it quite serious in the sense that some students were probably neutral and didn’t want to appear. They would not make the change for fear of other, more militant students. I thought it was serious that we put it on the students’ shouldersexplained the professor.

However, she later learned that not all of her students had decided not to continue her course. In fact, a support staff strike was called on Oct. 16, effectively preventing students from communicating their choices, the professor said.

The wind turns

When she had just spent two weeks cry all day and even to consider changing your name, the wind has turned when a column was published in the newspaper The press, column she refused to participate in.

You have no idea how many emails I’ve received, from multiple black people, people from all over the world, in French, in English. An immense wind of supportrecalled Mrs. Lieutenant-Duval.

Out of more than 500 emails received, she claimed to have received only four with a negative tone. In the end, she only agreed to three media interviews and swears she didn’t ask for any. She also declined Radio-Canada’s request for an interview on the sidelines of Friday’s hearing.

I was convinced that I was nearing the end of this story, that I would make a public apology. It was so obvious it didn’t make any sense! I had hope at the time, but that wasn’t going to happen at allsaid the professor with tremors in her voice.

The principal intervenes

Only after the media reported on the affair did Rector Jacques Frémont join the fray. Ms Verushka-Duval regrets that she believes he is submitting false facts without even hearing her version of the case. The expressions web of lies, fiction, fantasy and defamation come often, she said.

Ms Verushka-Duval also denounced the ongoing investigation, which she called sloppy.

Standing in front of a microphone, Jacques Frémont speaks to media representatives.

The Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, Jacques Frémont (archive)

Photo: Radio Canada / Jean Delisle

My offensive language is denounced without ever having asked me for the context. My students are contacted without asking for my opinion. I simply did my job using the scientific literature approved by my departmentdenounced the professor.

she said to herself perplexed through certain statements made by Rector Jacques Frémont, notably during an interview granted to journalist Alain Gravel.

He’s willing to do anything to ruin my credibility and discredit me. That’s how I perceived it. […] I feel my reputation has been damagedconcluded Verushka Lieutenant-Duval before the referee adjourned the session.

Lawyers for the University of Ottawa did not grant an interview as they exited the courtroom on Friday.

The hearings will resume on December 1st.

With information from Nafi Alibert

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